Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A little update

A little update:

On October 3, I underwent a left mastectomy.

My surgery was scheduled in Las Vegas. My husband recently has taken a job in Las Vegas and a breast and plastic surgeon team he works with came highly recommended. So Dizzy dog and I traveled from Park City to Las Vegas and checked into an Airbnb that would serve as our home base as I recovered from surgery.

Pre-Op at UMC in Las Vegas

Although I had a right mastectomy in 2011, I wasn't totally sure what to expect this time around as my surgeons were using a different technique. I was pretty fascinated with this new technique where instead of cutting the pectoralis major muscle and placing the tissue expander underneath, my plastic surgeon placed the tissue expander over the pec muscle (pre pectoral) and supported the entire breast with alloderm.  Research shows this method to have decreased acute and chronic pain as well as improved cosmetic outcome.  So far, I would say I have to agree! 

I awoke from surgery with minimal pain and only slightly nauseous. I vaguely remember Shannon and my surgeon talking about my follow-up appointment. Apparently, I was an active participant in this conversation with a drug-induced VERY LOUD voice 😂.  I felt good enough that Shannon drove me and my 2 pet drains back to the Airbnb.

Me and my pet drains

The next day I awoke with minimal pain. It truly was amazing and surprising. My rule of thumb for pain medication is if there is no pain when I'm sitting still I'm good. Tylenol and Ibuprofen were able to control my pain and I only required a narcotic for the first two nights. Based on my experience so far, a pre pectoral mastectomy is significantly less painful than a sub pectoral mastectomy. 

By day 3, I was able to go for short hikes. Nature truly does heal, I would return from my short hikes feeling invigorated and content. I also found out that the suspicious mass that started this cascade of events was completely benign. Phew! 

Hiking with drains

I found a rhythm of healing my first week post-op. I would wake up, take Dizzy for a walk on the adjacent greenway, take an afternoon nap, and when Shannon returned from work we would go for a hike with increased duration each day. 

At one week post-op one of my drains was removed and I was down to one pet drain.  Freedom! 

Note: This is a new mastectomy friendly bra made by Athleta. I have been super impressed with it. 
It is adjustable in every way imaginable, is waaaay more comfortable than the post-surgical bra, 
and it's not pink! If it had a hook for drains it would be perfect! 

At this point I felt good enough to drive myself to St. George to stay at our rental condo. While the Airbnb served its purpose well, it was so nice to stay someplace that felt like home! 

On Day 12 post-op, Shannon and I did a relatively mellow 7-mile hike in Kolob Canyon. Around every corner was a breathtaking view. I highly recommend this beautiful and accessible hike!

I also started a gentle Range of Motion program. The gentle stretching helped decrease pain, as a stiff shoulder is an uncomfortable shoulder. Note: Post mastectomy patients are at increased risk for rotator cuff injuries. It is super important to participate in consistent shoulder range of motion and stability exercises for life! 

In this photo I do not yet have full left upper extremity range, 
so I used a pillow to support my left arm as to not over stretch. 

After my second drain was removed, I returned to Park City and work. I also started riding the bike a bit starting on a recumbent, graduating to a trainer, and eventually riding the roads outside. TIP: Riding the full suspension mountain bike on the road (instead of a road bike) helps dampen out the road bumps and gets me riding outside sooner.

Weeks 3,4, and 5 I dabbled with a little off-road riding, but honestly it was like magic when I hit the 6-week mark; I could tell my body was properly healed for some legitimate off-road riding.

Park City weather has been very cooperative for mountain biking this Fall!

Just one day shy of week 7, I returned for my reconstructive surgery where the tissue expander was exchanged for a permament silicone implant.

At UMC Hospital in Las Vegas waking up from surgery. 
My surgical team has been AMAZING! 

I am now set-back to post-op Day 2. I can already tell that recovery from this much less invasive surgery is going to be quite quick, however I also know that the first two weeks are pivotal for complete healing of the incision. So, I'm back to walking.  If I'm forced to walk, there is no place I would rather be than wandering the desert of Southern Utah!

Getting some Desert and Vitamin D therapy

Seeing as tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my health and this little family of mine. I will be back at it in no time and we're already making plans to make 2018 great! 


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